The 2012 season of NASKA (North American Sport Karate Association) World Tour, the most prestigious sport martial arts tournament circuit, featured exciting performances by star competitors both new and old. Â This article will focus on the top forms and weapons competitors of the 2012 season, the moment of the year, rivalry of the year, and outlook for the 2013 season.
Star Competitors of 2012 Season
Undoubtedly, the year belonged to Matt Emig. Â In his final year of competition, Matt completely dominated men’s forms and weapons competition. Â Other than a rare dropping of a weapon on his incredibly difficult extreme double nunchukus routine or dealing with the after-effects of a sprained ankle at mid-season suffered at the 2012 US Open, Matt was nearly unbeatable in divisional or grand championship competitions with only a few exceptions. Â At season’s end,Â Matt cleaned house with an incredible 7 Men\’s Overall Forms Grands and 7 Men\’s Overall Weapons Grands out of the nine tournaments that he attended!
With regards to his ankle injury, he suffered it when he slipped on a small puddle of water while jogging between competitions. Â Miraculously, he taped up his ankle and went on to shine the night time show by winning the ISKA Titles in both Men\’s Forms and Weapons.
The other dominant competitor of 2012 was Dallas Liu, who in eleven tournaments attended (all four 6A- and seven 5A-rated tournaments), won all eleven Boys\’ 13- Traditional Forms Grands,Â nine Boys/Girls\’13- Overall Weapons Grands, and six Boys/Girls\’ 13- Overall Forms Grands!
When calculating points, the maximum number of points any competitor could earn was 13,600 points (winning allÂ four 6A-rated tournaments for 1,600 points each + winning six 5A-rated tournaments for 1,200 points each). Â Dallas Liu (Boys\’ 10-11 Traditional Forms and Traditional Weapons), Danny Etkin (Boys\’ 12-13 Extreme Forms), Jackson Rudolph (Boys\’ 14-15 Creative Weapons), and Mackensi Emory (Girls\’ 14-15 Creative Weapons) accomplished this incredible feat of consistency and excellence.
The Moment of the Year: Â The Battle of NASKA 4M’s
The top rivalry of 2011 was amongÂ Marc Canonizado, Matt Emig, and Mickey Lee, the NASKA 3M’sâ€”all bringing in their distinctive and exciting approaches to forms competition. Â Heading into the 2012 season, it was heavily anticipated, as stated in my previous article that “the three-way rivalry amongÂ Marc Canonizado,Â Matt Emig, andÂ Mickey Lee would expand to featureÂ the fourth â€œMâ€ in Micah Karns,” the most dominant 14-17 forms competitor of 2011.
With varying schedules throughout the course of the year, the four stars aligned together only once at the 2012 Compete Nationals Men\’s 18-29 Musical Forms division. Â With Matt’s official retirement from NASKA at the end of the 2012 season, this would be the first and perhaps only time in history when all four top NASKA men\’s forms competitors battled on the same stage.
Up first among the 4M\’s was Micah, who dynamically executed his trademark routine featuring innovative vertical tricking. Â For Micah’s performance, click here. Â Next was Marc, who pushed his comfort zone by bringing a different flair. Â For Marc’s performance, click here. Â Then came a red-hot Matt, whose incredible speed and eye-popping degree of difficulty wowed the crowd. Â For Matt’s performance, click here. Â Battling a head cold, Mickey executed a mesmerizing performance with his musical Taiji (Tai Chi) routine featuring difficult balance maneuvers, flexibility, and power perfectly timed to music. Â For Mickey’s performance,Â click here.
Each M’s performance brought out the best in the next competitor, making The Battle of 4M’s truly thrilling and the must-see event of the tournament. Â In the end, the evening belonged toÂ Mickey Lee who emerged victorious in this momentous four-way competition over his extreme martial arts rivals.
Rivalry of the Year: Â Brendan vs. Shahin
The most evenly-matched rivalry of 2012 was between Brendan Rasinski and Shahin Jahan-vash who had a dynamic one-on-one rivalry in forms, weapons, and sparring. Â For the 2011 season, both finished ranked first, second, or third in Boys\’ 16-17 Taller Sparring, Traditional Forms, and Traditional Weapons. Â However, the Brendan-Shahin rivalry truly sizzled in 2012 with top youth forms and weapons competitorsâ€”Vincent Scarduzio andÂ the aforementionedÂ Micah Karnsâ€”moving up into the adult divisions.
During the 2012 season, Brendan and Shahin had a neck-and-neck race for forms, even accumulating the same number of points for the Boys/Girls\’ 14-17 Overall Forms Grand Championâ€”Brendan winning at Quebec Open and Diamond Nationals and Shahin winning at AKA Grand Nationals and US Open. Â At season\’s end, the Brendan emerged victorious over Shahin 12,200 to 9,800 to earn the top spot in Boys\’ 16-17 Traditional Forms and 6,800 to 4,400 to win Boys\’ 14-17 Traditional Forms Grands.
When it came to weapons, Shahin won more convincingly 10,300 to Brendan\’s 7,300 in Boys\’ 16-17 Traditional Weapons as well as 6,800 to 0 to take home the Boys\’ 14-17 Traditional Weapons Grand Title. Â However, the closest of the year-long battles was in Boys\’ 16-17 Taller Sparring, where Brendan edged out Shahin 9,400 to 9,100Â for the yearly title.
Brendan and Shahin look to renew their rivalry in the 2013 season with both moving up into the men\’s 18-29 divisions!
Outlook for 2013: Â New Wave for Women\’s 18-29
During the 2010-2012 seasons, women\’s 18-29 Black Belt divisions often had only 2-4 competitors with Caitlin Dechelle and Becca Ross dominating most of the grand championships. Â The second half of the 2012 saw the triumphant return and ascension of Jenny Espina, whose incredibly difficult, fast, and strong creative bo staff routineÂ qualified her for the ISKA World Championships in Women\’s Weapons then later brought her a well-deserved victory in Women\’s Overall Weapons Grand Champion at the 2012 Diamond Nationals. Â Jenny kept the moment going by toppling both Caitlin and Becca at the 2013 AKA Grand Nationals in all three of her weapons divisions.
The 2013 season is in for more change as the women\’s weapons and forms divisions will see an influx of top competitors who were previous in the junior divisions: Micayla Johnson, Stephannie Figueroa, Sami Suddeth, and Jessica Goldman. Â Reflecting this breath of fresh air, Micayla won the Women\’s Overall Weapons Grand and Stephannie won Women\’s Korean Forms at the 2013 AKA Grand Nationals. Â Along with traditionalist powerhouse Olivia Wicker and weapons stalwart Audrie Donihoo, the women\’s 18-29 divisions are finally stocked with talent to make it very exciting to watch in 2013!